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Published:September 22nd, 2007 06:36 EST
Abu Ghraib IPs graduate from training

Abu Ghraib IPs graduate from training

By SOP newswire

BAGHDAD " Iraq`s capital gained 744 more police officers as the newest members of the Iraqi Security Force graduated from the Baghdad Police College in the Rusafa District, Sept. 20.

The graduation ceremony followed 30 days of training in which the Iraqi Police (IP) learned the basics of providing security and the importance of reconciliation.

These guys are the first class to go through the reconciliation process, " said Brig. Gen. John F. Campbell, the deputy commanding general for maneuver for Multi-National Division-Baghdad and the 1st Cavalry Division. It`s a great success story. These guys were volunteers, initially. They fought against al-Qaeda in Iraq in Abu Ghraib, under the condition they would have to join the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF). "

True to their word, the IPs joined the ISF, adding to a trend of cooperation in Abu Ghraib, where an awakening " of Sunni sheiks sparked the growth of a homegrown security force, dubbed the volunteers. " These citizens grew tired of the violence of Sunni extremists in the area and took up arms with the Coalition.

Now full-fledged members of the ISF, the former volunteers are headed home as IPs to police their neighborhoods.

Yet, this was not always the case. Previously, IPs were assigned without consideration for their neighborhoods.

However, after completing the course, which includes vehicle and building search techniques, hand-to-hand combat and use of weapons, the IPs are heading home to fight terrorists in their backyards.

According to one of the new IPs, Sufyan Taha Sarhar, this is a marked improvement because residents know who belongs in their neighborhoods and can, therefore, provide better security than outsiders.

I will be literally implementing all the training in order to defeat the terrorists, " he said through an interpreter.

Abu Ghraib is an especially important area for ISF to have a strong presence because traditionally it`s been a hot bed of insurgent activity, said Lt. Ahmed Shihab.

It is very important to educate the students of security concerns since they live so close to Fallujah and Ramadi, " said Shihab, one of the IPs` Iraqi Army trainers.

Although this is the first class to graduate the course, another class of 800 is scheduled to graduate Sept. 25, and the goal is to train 12,000 more IPs over the next six months, Campbell explained.

The strategy of putting ISF in the neighborhoods in which they live is a hallmark of the Baghdad security plan. In January, the commanding general of Multi-National Force-Iraq, Gen. David H. Petraeus, sought more Coalition and ISFs in order to bolster security. By allowing residents to join the ISF and then serve their own community, the hope is the ISF members and residents will be more comfortable with one another as well as more willing to join the ranks of the ISF, Campbell said.

The intent from Gen. Petraeus was to hire locals who would watch their neighborhoods. These guys are all out of Abu Ghraib and they will go back to Abu Ghraib, " Campbell said.

Once they return to the Abu Ghraib, where three new police stations wait to accommodate the new IPs, the partnership of the past will need to continue. The IPs of Abu Ghraib routinely partners with the 89th Military Police Group and 2nd Battalion, 5th Cavalry Regiment, as well as other Coalition forces in the area.

I think partnership really makes a huge difference. As they spend time around (Coalition forces), they want to be just like their Coalition partners, " Campbell said.

The goal is for this class to be the first of many, allowing the strategy to spread throughout Baghdad, he said.

We`re seeing the fruits of the labor here today, " Campbell said. We`re going to see much more of this over the next year. "

(Story by U.S. Army Spc. L.B. Edgar, 7th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment)

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